Brunell: Costly penalties lead to loss

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – I'm a Jaguars fan just like most of you who are reading this. And as a fan, I've been waiting for that moment that turns our season around. Sure, at 2-9, this season is pretty much over, but with five games left there is still some time to watch our players get on the right track and win some games down the stretch. Meaningless wins but wins nevertheless. 

On our last offensive possession of the game, I was hoping that moment had arrived. We were down seven points with plenty of time on the clock. It had been a good half for the Jaguars' offense. The Jags played turnover-free football and Blake Bortles was making good decisions in the passing game. He was accurate and the ball was getting to the intended targets on time. To me, it seemed to be set up perfectly. This was going to be the turnaround. Unfortunately, the Jaguars let me down. They let us down -- again.

I can understand getting beat by another football team. It's very difficult to win football games in the NFL. What I don't understand, is when your football team beats themselves week in and week out. That has been the story of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016. We are a team that continually finds ways to beat themselves, and most of the time, it comes in the form of turnovers.

IMAGES: Jaguars vs. Bills
UNCUT POST-GAME: Gus Bradley | Blake Bortles

That wasn't the case against the Bills. Turnovers weren't the problem. The problem, at least on that last offensive drive, was taking a foolish penalty. On fourth and 4, with the game on the line, we took a delay of game penalty -- that just can't happen. And, no, that wasn't Gus Bradley's fault. Could he have called a timeout? Yes. But the job of the quarterback is to manage the game in critical situations. You must be able to handle everything when the game is on the line. Bortles didn't do that, and it cost us 5 critical yards. Just find the play clock!  Trust me, fourth and 9 is a lot tougher than fourth and 4. Our quarterback must learn from this and never let that happen again.

I know there were other plays that cost us this game; The defense struggled giving up big plays on the ground and in the air, and, yes, we had some important calls go against us. But most games in the NFL come down to your last chance with the ball in your hands. We let that opportunity slip away in this one.

Former NFL QB Mark Brunell answers viewer's questions about the game

What’s with the recurring issues on special teams?

- Chris in Southside

What seems to be recurring is the continued drops trying to field the punt. I don't think we can trust Rashad Greene to be back there any longer. Covering punts is hurting us as well. All I can think of is replacing players that aren't getting it done.

How do the Jags eliminate the costly penalties?

- Erika in Girvin

   Don't let the guys play that commit them repeatedly. Why not at this point?

Do you think injuries played a role in the loss?

Francis in Deerwood

I do think injuries had a role. It would've been nice to have our running backs healthy for the whole game. Having two tight ends out never helps either.  As a quarterback, you always want (and need) your best players out there with you.

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